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Why Sterling could learn a lesson from Defoe and Kane

The Boot Room

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Week 31 in the Barclays Premier League saw some absolutely sensational strikes. From Charlie Adam’s blockbuster in his own half, to Wayne Rooney’s turn and volley and Bobby Zamora’s majestically dinked effort for QPR, it was a weekend of stunning goals.

But one goal which was equally as impressive and somewhat went under the radar due to the competition came in the Tyne-Wear derby. It was scored by a man who has been recognised as a fox-in-the-box throughout his career, but last Sunday Jermain Defoe showed a side of his game that not many have seen before, and why he is the key to keeping Sunderland in this division.

In Dick Advocaat’s first two games in charge of The Black Cats, Defoe has started on the right-wing in a 4-3-3 formation, a position he has rarely even been played in. On Sunday we saw a different Sunderland performance coming in a game that mattered so much, not only because it was the big derby, but because of how significant the 3 points are for Sunderland’s survival bid.

Defoe’s performance against Newcastle was the prime example of everything that has been missing on Wearside this season. He was obviously asked to do a job for the team, tracking back and helping out his side defensively. When he scored that 20 yard volley right on half-time, you could see just how much it meant to him. The former Spurs frontman was moved to tears when he walked down the tunnel, which must have been great to see from a Sunderland fans perspective.

As a neutral watching at home, I found this refreshing to see. Especially in a week where Raheem Sterling has rejected a new Liverpool deal, despite being offered a staggering amount of money.

Quite often in the media people are quick to criticise footballers like Sterling for being too greedy, but when a story reminds us that there are some good folk too, it gets nowhere near the same level of coverage.

We saw Defoe put in a huge defensive shift against Newcastle; at some points during the match he was making slide tackles in the left-back area of the pitch, something which is completely alien to his game. It is very unlikely that Defoe wished to play this role, because he’s a goal-scorer, he goes about his business further up the pitch. But did we see him sulk, moan and make a fuss? No, he simply got on and did a job for his team.

It’s this attitude and desire that fans want to see every week. Another Englishman who is showing this similar work ethic is Harry Kane.

Kane has burst on to the scene at Spurs this season, scoring goals for fun and has becoming the darling of English football. To keep big money foreign signings out of the team in place of ‘one of their own’ bodes well with supporters, and this is exactly what has happened at Spurs. Roberto Soldado sits on the bench every week due to the form of Kane.

Everyone seems to love a bit of Harry Kane. Whether it’s Spurs fans, neutral fans or the media, people can’t get enough of him at the moment. The question is; why?

You don’t see any stories about Kane demanding a pay raise a la Sterling. He’s just a young man who loves playing football. The fact that Kane has had loan spells in the lower leagues and stepped away from the Premier League bubble probably helped him to realise just how privileged he is.

When you watch his interviews he comes across as a humble young lad, and such is his presence you almost feel like you know him! The same can’t be said about Sterling; he doesn’t share the same warmth the Kane does, he doesn’t show his emotions like Defoe.

With modern football now, we hear too many stories of how player power has taken over the game. So when we see Defoe cry after scoring such an important and stunning goal, and when we see young Harry Kane come from nowhere to England’s new number 9, it makes us appreciate the good things the game can offer us.

Defoe is 32 years old now, he’s had his fair share of clubs and has achieved some great feats in his career. On the flipside, Sterling’s career is only just beginning. Maybe young Raheem should step back for a minute and realise just how lucky he is. It could be worse, he could be asked to put a shift in at left-back.

The Boot Room is a football analysis website, bringing original and creative content to the fans of the English Football League.

West Ham United

Signing Yaya Toure is not enough to gain support for West Ham board

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Photo: Getty Images.

West Ham United are believed to be close to appointing former Premier League winning coach Manuel Pellegrini as their new manager, and reports indicate that it could lead to a coup signing in his former player Yaya Toure.

The Telegraph make the claims as they say that previous talks between the Hammers and the free agent broke down, but the appointment of the Chilean would smooth matters and may make a deal more feasible.

In truth, the signing may not actually impress West Ham fans all that much. They have grown used to the signing of players who were dominating the game five years ago and are now past their best. The signings of Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta and Patrice Evra over the past year have shown as much with mixed results.

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

The board are desperately seeking a way to get fans back onside as discontent grows and fans accuse them of not spending sufficiently to back their team and the signing of such a high profile player of immense quality may satisfy those wishes.

That may be the plan, but Yaya Toure made only two Premier League starts in 2017/18 and such a record bares terrifying resemblances to the likes of Andy Carroll, commanding a high wage whilst spending more time in the stands watching on than actually making an impact.

Toure could provide a spark and excitement, there’s no denying that he would be an invigorating addition, but he is not the long-term solution that the club require as fans cry out for players with potential and already at their best. His signing would be a mere distraction.

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Liverpool

Liverpool target Besiktas’ Anderson Talisca would add superb attacking depth

The Brazilian has recorded 28 goal contributions in Turkey this season.

Max Cohen

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Anderson Talisca
Photo: Getty Images

After Besiktas’ 5-1 home win over Sivasspor on Saturday, manager Senol Gunes strongly hinted that star attacker Anderson Talisca would be joining Liverpool this summer.

The possible signing of the Brazilian midfielder would be a superb acquisition for Liverpool, adding depth and quality to the club’s star-studded attack.

According to FourFourTwo, the Besiktas manager confirmed Talisca would be leaving the Turkish club for the Premier League after two years on loan from Benfica.

And Gunes dropped a massive hint that put Liverpool as the possible frontrunners in attaining his signature ahead of Manchester United.

“He might be rivals with Cenk Tosun,” Gunes replied when asked about Talisca’s English destination.

Of course, former Besiktas striker Cenk Tosun plays for Everton– leading many to jump to the conclusion that Talisca is headed to Anfield instead of Old Trafford.

(Photo by Ozan Kose/Getty Images)

The signing would represent a strong statement of intent from the Reds, as Talisca has enjoyed a stunning two seasons at Besiktas and is a burgeoning attacking talent.

In 47 appearances this season, the 24-year-old was involved in an impressive 28 goals, scoring 20 and assisting eight.

And the Brazilian’s past form shows this fantastic season is not a one-off. In 2016/17, Talisca bagged 17 goals and six assists, despite only featuring 33 times in all competitions.

While some might argue that the Turkish Super Lig has a poorer defensive standard than the Premier League, Talisca has proven his worth in European competition as well. In his time at Besiktas, he has notched five Champions League goals, as well as two goals and four assists in the Europa League.

The Brazilian youth international would add impressive offensive depth for Liverpool, as the Reds look to seriously challenge for the Premier League next season.

The purchase of the prolific attacking midfielder would be an ideal first step in assembling a squad that could bring Anfield its first league trophy in over two decades.

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Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham have already identified Eric Dier’s £25 million replacement in Wilmar Barrios

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Photo: Getty Images.

Losing first team regulars may not be a complete surprise to Tottenham and Mauricio Pochettino, and that may why be reports are indicating that the coach has already lined up an alternative to Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama should either move on this summer.

The Sun say that there is still interest in Dier, who will be at the World Cup with England, whilst Wanyama’s struggles with injury may mean that Pochettino looks elsewhere for the role of midfield enforcer.

They believe the target to be Boca Juniors’ 24-year-old holding midfielder Wilmar Barrios, a Colombian international who plays alongside Spurs’ Davinson Sanchez at international level.

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The youngster has become a key man in the Boca Juniors side but, perhaps unusually, has not caught the attention of many in Europe. Barrios has, though, developed a reputation as one of the best players in South America, particularly in his position, as he has become a linchpin protecting his back four.

That is protected in his very impressive stats, which show that he makes on average three tackles per game and 2.8 interceptions per match, compared to the 1.8 tackles and 1.3 interceptions for Dier playing in a very similar role.

Barrios’ intelligent reading of the game has drawn comparisons to Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro, with both men guilt of diving into tackles on occasion despite all of their many strengths.

He may be raw, with no experience of playing in Europe, but at £25 million he could prove to be a bargain and Mauricio Pochettino’s return home to go on a shopping spree could provide a long-term solution to the holding midfield role which seems as uncertain as ever after the 2017/18 season.

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